Spam is an interesting food. It’s a bit of a mystery to most (I reveal the ingredients below, it’s not that mysterious), has a unique taste, and the word “Spam” is more commonly used for junk mail.
So, what exactly is Spam? And, more importantly, as affordable meat – can cats eat Spam and is it safe for them?
The short answer is – no, cats should not eat Spam. It’s not toxic or poisonous or anything like that, it’s just too high in salt and sodium content for kitties.
As someone who grew up eating Spam (my parents love it), it was fun taking a closer look at what exactly it is, what’s in it, and whether or not I should be sharing it with my cats.
What Is Spam?
The interesting thing about Spam is the origin of the name isn’t really known, which only adds that mystery about this meat product.
I found some sources stating they think the name comes from “Spiced Ham”. Other sources say it’s an acronym for “Special Processed American Meat”, and I’ve even read accounts claiming it’s named after someone who was involved in its creation.
Either way, the word shot to fame as a result of a series of Monty Python sketches back in the 70s where they couldn’t seem to avoid being offered Spam, whatever they did.
This is how the word became attached to unwanted emails. Which, on one hand, gives the product a bad name, but on the other hand helped to make it one of the most well-known words in the world.
What’s in Spam and How Is It Made?
According to the Spam official brand website, there are just six ingredients in Spam:
- Pork and Ham
- Potato Starch
- Sodium Nitrite
It’s made by basically adding the salt and sugar to ground-up meat, then being cooked in the can.
Not so mysterious once you take the time to look at what it actually is, eh?
Spam was created to solve a problem. Pork shoulder was not a popular cut, and there was a need for an affordable meat product that had a long shelf life.
Spam does all of these things, but it has its drawbacks.
Why Spam Is NOT OK for Cats
Spam isn’t a healthy food in general. Sorry Spam lovers, it’s the truth. A little here and there is fine, as are most foods that aren’t on the “healthy” list.
The reason for this is that according to Healthline, Spam is highly processed, it’s high in sodium, salt, fat, and low in good nutrients.
This is particularly bad for cats as salt and sodium are a lot more harmful to them in large amounts.
Simply put, Spam contains too much salt and sodium for cats to safely eat it.
A small amount should be fine. So, don’t stress if you’ve been giving your cats a little from time to time. But, in my opinion you should stop – even with the small amounts.
Related – Can cats eat Vienna sausage?
What Should You Give Your Cat Instead?
There are a number of human foods that are safe for cats. It’s no secret that cats are obligate carnivores. Not only do they love meat, but they also need it in their diet.
If you want to give them meat, think the opposite of Spam. Give them some plain chicken that hasn’t been processed, and has no added salt, sugar or seasoning.
In the wild, cats can live off meat they eat from catching prey. Sure, it wouldn’t be cooked, that’s just an added bonus. It wouldn’t have any additives at all either, that’s the key thing.
If you want to treat your kitty, the best thing you can do is to give them cat treats. Cat treats have been specially formulated to be good for cats while being a tasty treat to be given in addition to their main diet.
Just keep something like these Temptations available on Amazon in the cupboard:
When your cat is pining for some of your food just throw them a few of these little treats and they’ll be just as happy – with none of the associated health risks!
It’s a win-win.
Some Human Foods That Are Bad/Toxic to Cats
While spam isn’t good for cats, it’s not toxic or harmful in small amounts. There are some foods that are a lot more dangerous though, here are a few to avoid giving to your cat:
Dairy Products – Most people, and this applies to non-cat owners, in particular, think that a bowl of milk is good for cats.
It’s true that cats love milk and other dairy products and will happily lap it up. However, it’s also a fact that cats are lactose intolerant and do not have enzymes needed to digest lactose.
Avoid giving your cat dairy products, no matter how much they bother you for some. It’s very likely to give them an upset stomach. This also includes raw eggs which are known to interfere with vitamin absorption.
Grapes/Raisins – Raisins and grapes are very bad for cats and dogs. Even small amounts can cause kidney failure, and at best they will be sick.
Onions and Garlic – The smell of these is strong enough to make my cats look elsewhere for food. Which is fortunate as they can cause damage to the red blood cells in cats and lead to anemia or worse.
Chocolate – Anyone with a dog is usually well aware that it’s harmful to dogs. The same applies to cats.
The compounds methylxanthine and caffeine are harmful to pets, both of which are found in chocolate. The same applies to drinks like coffee that are high in caffeine.
Alcohol – Alcohol is deadly to cats. You should never leave a glass out that you’ve been drinking from, even a few sips can cause them to fall seriously ill.
This isn’t a complete list of bad foods. Before giving anything to your cat you should always double-check it’s safe for them.
Don’t forget that cats are very small compared to us (most cats are!), so even small amounts of harmful foods can make them very sick.
If you were looking for ways to make good use of some Spam sitting in your cupboard, I’m sorry but it can’t go to your cat!
Hopefully, I haven’t put you off. If you like Spam, you keep on eating it.
Just don’t let your feline friend get their claws or teeth into it. It’s too high in salt and sodium and can potentially cause some stomach upset at best. At worst, it’ll lead to more serious health issues over time.
Image credits – Header photo by Janayara Machado, Spam photo by Hannes Johnson, donut photo by Tetiana Bykovets, garlic photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash